Been offered brand new free school or last choice

(440 Posts)
Lazymama2 Wed 16-Apr-14 16:35:03

We're not sure what to do as have been offered a place at a brand new school which is with walking distance but has not been 'fitted out' yet (buildings are there). There is very little concrete info on term dates, start and finish times, curriculum and obviously no past performance on which to base a decision. Also no older kids to look up to. Other school is our last choice and has improved from satisfactory to good. DH does not want Dd to go to this school and would prefer private. I, on the other hand, quite like idea of a brand new school.

Thoughts/ideas anyone?

PS please dont turn this into a debate of state vs. private as I believe every parent does what is best for thier child/family circumstances and im not for/against one or the other.

Claireblunderwood Wed 08-Mar-17 14:25:26

They really do read like PR-bot messages too, Sansary, don't they?

SansaryaAgain Tue 07-Mar-17 19:04:43

Hmm, I can't help but be a little suspicious that the most effusive comments about WPS come from posters who seem to have created a MN account just to post on this thread.

CBH1326 Tue 07-Mar-17 14:08:14

I have only heard fantastic things about Whitehall Park school. They have worked hard to get the new building ready and it looks great.

Claireblunderwood Tue 07-Mar-17 09:54:05

Well of course the great thing is now free schools can be officially selective (instead of effectively selective with feeder nurseries, ridiculous uniforms, compulsory Latin and 'zero tolerance' on urban hairstyles).

Perhaps Whitehall Park will redo their admissions arrangements accordingly. If they make sure they only have high achieving kids, they'll get great results which will prove that they're brilliant schools.

LocalMummyPerson Tue 07-Mar-17 08:59:11

Gretchen I totally agree- it is really hard to run a decent school. Especially if you don't select the intake. Professionals with decades of experience find it hard. The mix of well-meaning amateurs and private companies looking to make money by lucrative contracts with free schools, all being able to have a punt at it, doesn't inspire me with confidence.
Councils should never have been legally stopped from opening new community schools with proper planning, where places are needed. It's ridiculous.
Meanwhile, school budgets are being cut..
www.fairfundingforallschools.org/about-us.html

Anyway if you want to hear Toby Young I think this is the link to the Today Programme for today - still on air so I don't think the listen again link is ready: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08gwfmk

AndNoneForGretchenWieners Tue 07-Mar-17 08:37:02

I would home school rather than send my child to a free school, they are astoundingly difficult to run and often set up by educationalists with no experience of running a business, which a FS really is. They then end up cutting costs to balance their budget, and the provision is impacted severely. Some are fine, but it's too much of a gamble for me unless they are part of a huge multi academy chain.

LocalMummyPerson Tue 07-Mar-17 08:32:31

Yuck just listening to Toby Young on the Today programme claiming that free schools are the most cost effective way of delivering new school places and that there is no evidence they are set up in places not needed.
I think we could argue that point with him judging by the examples on this thread..

but then it probably IS quite cost effective if you can get parents to give up their time and resources to set up a new school. hmm
(Just wondering what happens in areas when it's not an option to be able to do that, for many parents..)

SansaryaAgain Sun 26-Feb-17 12:44:21

So basically the school used parents as unpaid labour instead of hiring anyone to do it? Hmm.

Islingtonparent31 Wed 15-Feb-17 15:12:53

Ofsted for new schools does not have to happen for 3 years which means it will happen this year... in the meantime the schools ( great) results are on the website..... But a lot of the parents there go there because of word of mouth about how HAPPPY the kids and parents are- not because of an Ofsted number....

Islingtonparent31 Wed 15-Feb-17 15:10:32

there are currently about 70 parents on site helping to make sure the new school building, with its story tree, forest school area and all the other wonderful things planned is indeed open after half term - because that's how much they love the school. Its the most amazing set of parents and kids. Its one of the things that seems to have been missed on these threads - yes its a new school but boy , does that mean that you feel like it is YOUR school and everyone goes the extra mile for it ....

SansaryaAgain Wed 08-Feb-17 16:56:12

This is the closest school to where I live and my DC starts school in Sept 2018. Am already wondering what to do, as it's more than likely we'd just miss the catchment area for Coleridge (despite it being the closest Haringey school to us), although I know it does vary from year to year, and as we don't have a car it'd be quite a hike to get to any of the other schools in the borough.

How long has Whitehall Park been open now - 2 years? I've not read anything about an OFSTED inspection yet. Also I'm struggling to see how, as a PP says, they will move into the new building after Feb half-term as it's nowhere near complete at the moment!

LocalMummyPerson Tue 20-Dec-16 19:16:51

Totalshambles a school parent told me that the move to the new premises has been set for after Feb half term. wink

Sunnymummy73 Tue 18-Oct-16 18:10:33

Lazymama2 & Totalshables, I would love to hear an update on this thread.
I am applying for the 2017 intake and find myself in similar circumstances. We live in another area in London, and despite living less than 500m from our nearest Primary and within 1.5k of another 5 we are highly unlikely to get offered a place in any of them. The only local alternative is an undersubscribed free school, set up in temporary premises in September 2015. If we decline this offer we would have to find an undersubscribed school in the neighbouring borough.
I wonder if you had any luck appealing? Any advice would be much appreciated.

Totalshambles Sun 25-Sep-16 10:56:55

I went along to visit for the second time before the April deadline for applications.

I was assured a new school building would be ready by September. Now I am no builder but these seemed very optimistic to me. I asked what the back up plan would be in the event the work was delayed and I was shut down with a (slightly aggressive) 'it won't be delayed". " I understand thats the plan now" I said " but sometimes it happens that things take longer for unforeseen reasons...then what will you do?". The response "it won't take longer". That was enough for me. To have no contingency plan (or at least to refuse to discuss them) was enough to convince me that it wasn't the school for us.

I also asked what safety precautions were being taken for the kids given that they were spending their days on a building site and was told "none are needed". Maybe that's right, maybe they have taken medical/expert advice and that's correct but as a concerned prospective parent they could have told me that. Their abrupt and defensive answers turned me off completely.

I am not Nlondondad. I don't know Nlondondad. But he is being hounded for making sensible points that aren't being answered. I understand that the parents who are already there feel defensive about the school but people just want honest answers to questions when making decisions about where to send their kids.

It was obvious the building wouldn't be ready for September. It would have been sensible to have anticipated this openly and discussed it - preparing children and adults (those at the school and prospective families) in good time.

LocalMummyPerson Sun 25-Sep-16 09:53:07

Is the new school building expected to be completed on schedule? Am thinking about local school options. Thanks.

MumN8 Sat 23-Jul-16 13:28:02

Thanks Parentz2, I also have to add the school has been nothing but honest and transparent about the asbestos and possible move to the new site and as parents we are very grateful for this!

As a parent it's instinctive to want to protect your children and that includes the school they go to, so when people like nlondondad/what1984 has a clear objection to the school and uses scare monger tactics to put people off from choosing WPS, then yes as a parent I would want it to stop.

Was I involved in this so called ‘whistle blowing’ – NO!
Do I support it - Absolutely!

Whitehall Park is a fantastic school, the curriculum is imaginative and inspiring, the teaching methods are effective and the after school clubs are varied and easy to get into! The teachers and head teacher go beyond what is expected and my children have had amazing opportunity’s to go to The London Zoo, Greenwich Observatory, The Science Museum, Little Angel Theatre, The Natural History Museum, The Cinema, …. They have had experiences of Royal Banquets, Science Day, Art Day, Brazilian Carnivals, Mathstastic Day, Games Day, Summer Fetes, Winter Wonderland, and all this from a couple of porta cabins on what is effectively a building site.
– It’s been absolutely incredible!

parentz2 Fri 22-Jul-16 21:19:39

The asbestos was in the old building that has gone a while back already . It was not hidden from us, I was told directly from the head,however there was some confusion about the length it took to get the asbestos cleared and at parents request a meeting was held where the different options were explained and parents took an active part of being influential as much as was possible.

We knew about the possibility of a different site but this could not be told officially by the head because even the Bishops approval was needed,yes the Bishop.

There have been times where it has been the parents requesting more information from the school and the school have not had all the information. However there are a lot of parties involved included ISHA, Islington Council, the Trust and Department of Education and the school's focus was continuing to run a school while trying to deal with all the building issues.

Paperm0ver Fri 22-Jul-16 18:42:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Paperm0ver Fri 22-Jul-16 18:35:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Impendingdoom Fri 22-Jul-16 18:13:25

I am genuinely a parent of a child who might apply for this school next year. I've been to visit, and to the summer fete. And spoken to the teachers, who seemed nice and committed, and seen lots of happy kids and contributing parents.
However the story about the asbestos and trying to silence nlondondad, even if you do find him annoying, worries me. Please can those of you with children at the school tell us what you were told about the asbestos, and what has reassured you that it is OK? And do you feel you've been kept well informed about the building and move? At the fete one of the teachers told me one date which was different to the date that came out a couple of days later, and I thought the newsletter making the temporary location out to be an exciting secret was patronising ( unless in practise parents have already been told)

parentz2 Fri 22-Jul-16 15:43:58

I've had a brief search and it seems that nlondondad stopped writing in April 2016 and since then it's all what1984. Also what I noticed is that this person gives really great insight into so many schools, both the positive and negative BUT when it comes to WPS this person has nothing good to say, not one positive comment. So while other schools get a fair view our school has been slated at any possible chance. But Nlondondad or what1984 has never stepped a foot inside the school, has not spoken to parents or teachers yet absolutely seems to detest the existence of the school, I can not fathom why a person would have such a hatred towards something they are not part of.

So here are some more personal experiences. When we arrive at school the teachers are there, smiling, preparing for the day and working hard, the same when we leave school. The office has been moved 3 times, resulting in days of extra work for staff, working after hours because the Internet was down, and all on top of their normal work and still they keep smiling, working hard and giving the pupils a great experience. I go to work, come back and pick my child up and these teachers are still working. Every teachers job is difficult but being in temporary accommodation and having moved and come back from school holidays early to reset up again, makes their jobs that much harder. So I want to acknowledge here their hard work and dedication.

Some of the children's experiences that I refer to are two outings a term, a Brazilian carnival, a Royal Banquet, a 2 day willow workshop, a work experience week where children heard from different parents and people in the community about their jobs, a games day to name some..

Another area that is exceptional at the school is parent involvement. We had a parent write and publish a book with our children, run drumming workshops, tun sessions around RE, and every Friday is Fantastic Friday, when parents come and read with their child and friends in class.

So nlondondad or what1984 before you go ahead and tear our school apart again in this forum, be fair and give your opinion about both the good and negative aspects as you do about every other school you comment on. You have a huge range of experience and knowledge it seems, so I am sure you can see that our school must have some positives as well. smile

MumN8 Thu 21-Jul-16 18:19:06

Interesting idea parentz2 could what1984 be nlondondad posting links to a blog by David Barry (who can't confirm or deny he his nlondondad)

Now that is creepy!!

parentz2 Thu 21-Jul-16 16:31:19

I have a child already at WPS. I feel a lot of the recent comments about the school are coming from parents who are not at the school eg: the way Maths is taught, wrap around care, building updates and so it may be helpful for those parents wondering what is going on to hear from a person who is at the school. HOWEVER it would be much more beneficial to contact the school directly to get an answer on for example wrap around care or the curriculum and methods taught.

But very briefly, there is wrap around care for year 1 and year 2 pupils from the start.
The school could not announce anything officially until been given permission from a number of parties involved.
Moving offsite is not ideal but my children will be fine with this. We have explained the situation, the school has explained it to them and there are a lot of positives that we have to look forward to at the new site for example the the amazing facilities. So it depends on how you view it and we are choosing to see this as an exciting new venture and experience that our children can grow from.

It is day one of the holidays and my child is sad to be on holiday- that says a lot.

An idea- nlondondad has disappeared and what1984 is on this thread posting things to do with nlondondondad- I have a hunch that this is the same person?

Paperm0ver Mon 18-Jul-16 23:41:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LocalMummyPerson Mon 18-Jul-16 09:25:24

And I'd like to third, that that letter linked to above is creepy

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